LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky was one of 32 winners in the NCAA Division I “Pack the House” Challenge. “Pack the House” is a national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance.
NCAA Division I women’s basketball marketing staffs selected a home game and designated that date as a “Pack the House” game with the goal of setting an attendance record. One winner from each of the 32 conferences and one from a group of independent institutions are chosen each year, with the selections being based on marketing plan creativity and attendance criteria. The NCAA will award prizes and donate $500 to the nonprofit organization of each winning institution’s choice.
And with 153 institutions participating in the effort this year, attracting more than 431,000 fans, pack the house, they did.
Kentucky played host to 14,508 fans at its women’s basketball game on Dec. 8 vs. Duke. The game marks the highest attendance mark in UK Hoops history.
Events at Army, Baylor, Canisius, Delaware, Georgia, Green Bay, Kansas State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Navy, Sacramento State and Stanford produced sell-out crowds. Sixty-nine programs surpassed their single-game attendance highs from last year.
“In the fifth year of this initiative, we are pleased to see the continued increase in attendance, excitement and exposure for our women’s basketball programs,” said Greg Christopher, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Bowling Green State University. “The year-in and year-out success of Pack the House is a direct tribute to the commitment level put forth by the personnel at each campus. These efforts continue to help grow the game.”
The ideas to market the games were as diverse as the membership itself.
At Kentucky, for example, high school and middle school teams from throughout the Commonwealth were invited to be a part of the day's events. Kentucky also utilized social media to its fullest, updating over 570,000 fans through the athletic department's official Facebook page and garnering support from men's basketball head coach John Calipari who sent out updates to his million-plus followers on Twitter.
“Women’s basketball continues to grow in Lexington, around the Commonwealth and across the nation,” UK assistant athletics director for marketing and licensing Nathan Schwake said. “We’re fortunate to have unbelievable support from the community all season long, and awards like this show us how passionate Wildcats fans are about Kentucky basketball. We plan on giving the $500 prize to the Pat Summitt Foundation.”
Winners of the 2011-12 NCAA “Pack the House” Challenge are:
America East – Vermont
Atlantic Coast – Virginia
Atlantic Sun – Florida Gulf Coast
Atlantic 10 – Massachusetts
Big East – Marquette
Big Sky –Sacramento State
Big South – Winthrop
Big Ten – Iowa
Big 12 – Kansas State
Big West – Long Beach State
Colonial – Delaware
Conference USA – Memphis
Great West – New Jersey Institute
Horizon – Green Bay
Ivy – Pennsylvania
Metro Atlantic – Canisius
Mid-American – Central Michigan
Mid-Eastern – Morgan State
Missouri Valley – Missouri State
Mountain West – Air Force
Northeast – Central Connecticut State
Ohio Valley – Did Not Participate
Pacific-12 – California
Patriot – Bucknell
Southeastern – Kentucky
Southern – Georgia Southern
Southland – Sam Houston State
SWAC – Southern University
Summit – Oral Roberts
Sun Belt – South Alabama
West Coast – Portland
WAC – Louisiana Tech
Independents – Longwood
California- Pacific 12